Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Houston Chronicle Flexes Previously Untapped Powers to Mold Public Policy, Turns Mayor Into Its Willing Stooge (Well, That’s One Opinion)

In our wildest imaginings we couldn’t conceive of any rational person with at least pretensions to objectivity claiming that the Houston Chronicle is fomenting hatred against illegal immigrants. But what do we know. It’s true that the paper’s coverage has, ah, stiffened somewhat over the past few years, dating, we believe, to the killing of Houston police officer Rodney Johnson by previously deported illegal and convicted child molester Juan Quintero back in 2006 and primarily through the reporting of Susan Carroll and James Pinkerton. At the very least, the paper has pretty much shucked its sentimentalized, anecdotal approach for a harder, more balanced examination (although there’s a lot more to the issue than simply cruising the corner, the admittedly narrow corner, where crime and illegal immigration intersect). The paper’s editorial stance, however, is still one of open-borders advocacy, although we’re sure whoever’s in charge of editorial positions would reject the label. But it is what it is: any effort at enforcing existing law, from a border wall to workplace raids to full implementation of the 287g program by the city (which even the Obama administration supposedly wants to expand is greeted with at least an arched editorial eyebrow or a full-on tsk-tsking, while implementation of some pathway to citizenship or another is pushed as paramount and downright urgent (as if there's some 5-alarm necessity in legalizing people who shouldn’t have been here in the first place). Then there’s the periodic moral instruction provided the paper’s morally flawed readers by the Teen Columnist, whose knowledge of what actually transpires on the streets of Houston on a day-to-day basis is about equal to a newborn’s (an anchor baby’s, if you will).

So we were somewhat surprised to open the September-October edition of the Houston Catholic Worker (don’t ask us why), a publication of the Casa Juan Diego House of Hospitality, and find a full-bore rant (unavailable on-line) against the Chronicle. Seems the Casa Juan Diego House of Hospitality blames the newspaper for the city’s participation the 287g program, under which the federal government essentially pays local agencies to enforce immigration law in jails, and for generally riling a supposedly previously unriled populace:
The decision of Mayor White of Houston to implement this program can be traced to the pressure from the Houston Chronicle, which has campaigned for months to create an anti-immigrant milieu in Houston, where it had not existed before.

Day after day, month after month, on the front page of issue after issue of the paper, the Chronicle has found a way to demonize immigrants, implying that they are all criminals.

As in any large city, there are murders and robberies in Houston. The Chronicle has not featured the ethnic background [something entirely different than citizenship--wonder how many of those illegal Fujianese busboys who’re all over southwest Houston are served by Casa Juan Diego?] of these robbers and murderers or featured their crimes on the front page with large color pictures and headlines except in a few cases involving immigrants. [Yes, killing a cop, or a prominent doctor from Methodist Hospital, will bring you out of the shadows and on to the front page.]
The editorial was written by Mark and Louise Zwick, who run Casa Juan Diego and have been accorded favorable treatment by the Chronicle in the past (we personally have no problem with the Zwicks and in fact admire their work ministering to immigrants--it’s the political activism and press criticsim we find bothersome). It may have had an effect: The illegal status of the two brothers arrested in the Bellville slaying of Dr. Jorge Mario Gonzalez last month was relegated to the bottom paragraph of the paper’s initial story on the killing. In a less-than-shocking development, one of los hermanos had been previously arrested for having sex with a 14 year old but was still stinkin' up the streets of Olde Sharpstown.

We do see a way out here for Mayor White, whose efforts to defy gravity and use the mayorship of Houston as a springboard to high statewide office appear to have been at least temporarily discombobulated by Dem party activists' ire over his seemingly half-hearted support of 287g: He could just blame it on the newspaper! The powerful, rabble-rousing Chronicle left him no choice! (These “Latino activists” who supposedly are put out with White over the issue should sober up, look around and recognize who actually votes in Texas and who gets elected to statewide office. If winning an election is, like, their thing.)

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